4 hospitalised as Benue govt demolishes structures in MakurdiBenue, State News Friday, June 15th, 2012
FOUR people, mostly children, were admitted in a hospital, on Thursday, when the Benue State Urban Development Board invaded and demolished structures at the new garage area of the capital city intended to be used for recreation centre.
Nigerian Tribune gathered from the scene of the incident that the affected people sustained injury from teargas canisters that were thrown by policemen who escorted the men of the board to the area.
A resident of the area, Madam Rachael Chukwumeka, who spoke to Nigerian Tribune said that three children within the ages of three and four and a housewife who were oblivious of the happenings suddenly slumped and went unconscious as a result of the gas they inhaled, adding that the victims were promptly rushed to a hospital where they were later revived.
The General Manager of the state urban development, Mr Musa Suleiman, explained that the disputed site was being illegally occupied by block moulders, stating that the decision of the board to engage policemen was consequent upon the resistance put up by the occupiers.
He further explained that the board had given the occupiers notice ahead of the demolition, adding that the exercise was carried out after the association lost the case at the state High Court.
He said the state government had provided an alternative place for the block moulders as well as paying compensation to some of the members only to resist relocation.
But in a swift reaction, the chairman of Makurdi Block Industries, Slid Mineral and Welfare Association, Alhaji Tanko Bardi, said that none of his members put up resistance as they were not given notice that they were coming for demolition.
He said that the union having lost at the state High Court had proceeded to the Appeal Court in Makurdi and secured an injunction restraining the government from carrying out any demolition pending the determination at the appeal court.
While frowning on the decision of the government, the chairman said they were not out to fight the government but said that the same government that always preached due process should have allowed the Appeal Court to rule on the case.
He said that most of them had the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of the disputed lands, adding that none of them had thought of meeting government for compensation since the case was still pending before court.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Philip Agena, who confirmed the throwing of canisters, said it was informed by the resistance of the workers at the block industry.
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